Hamilton businessman, celebrated golfer dies at 84

One of Hamilton’s most accomplished amateur golfers and businessmen died this week.

Joseph F. Miller Jr., a member of two sports halls of fame, died Monday. He was 84.

Miller was co-owner of Miller Buick Auto Sales, a successful car dealership located in downtown Hamilton for many years, his family said.

“My dad was a role model, a father who was always there for me,” said Jodie Baga, one of his two daughters. “He showed us how to be good parents. If anyone needed anything, dad was the first to say, ‘They can stay with us. How much do they need?’”

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He also enjoyed tremendous success on the golf course. He won four City of Hamilton Golf Championships and was runner-up seven times. He also won 19 golfing titles at Elks Country Club. He’s a member of the Badin High School Sports Hall of Fame and the Butler County Sport Hall of Fame.

In 1973, he won the coveted Cincinnati Metropolitan Championship. Additionally, he qualified for the National Amateur in Tulsa, Okla., and was the low amateur when he played in the Buick Open in Detroit. He reached the quarterfinals of the Ohio Amateur Championship Tournament three times.

Baga said golf was a major part of her father’s life.

“That’s where he was happy,” she said.

During many of those tournaments, Miller played against Gene “Middie” Smith, who earned his nickname because he was from Middletown but attended Hamilton Catholic.

Smith said he golfed with Miller in the same foursome for 50 years, and he only beat him once in a city match play tournament.

“Even in defeat he was gracious,” said Smith, 89, who played basketball at Xavier University. “He always wanted you to play well because he wanted to beat you at your best.”

He called Miller the “best golfer in Hamilton for many, many years.”

Miller attended St. Peter in Chains Grade School and graduated from Hamilton Catholic High School in 1954. He continued his education at Rollins College in Winter Park, Fla., where he received a sports scholarship. During his four years at Rollins, the golf team was undefeated in match play.

He also served in the U.S. Army.

He is survived by his wife Melba Miller; two daughters Krissan Flum and Jodie Baga; two sons-in law David Flum and Ed Baga Jr.; six grandchildren Megan (Matt) Hessling, Emily (Jeff) Wolf, Elizabeth Flum, Nathan Baga, Jacob Baga, Andrew Baga; and three great-grandchildren Madilyn Hessling, Finnley Hessling, Bowen Hessling.

A mass will be celebrated at 10 a.m. Monday at St. Ann Catholic Church, 646 Clinton Ave., Hamilton, and masks must be worn in the church, the family said.

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